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Bob Wallace

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Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« on: April 17, 2018, 05:00:00 AM »
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Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles

TerryM

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 05:35:20 AM »
Enzymes and enzyme producing bacteria can solve many of the worlds problems. Broad spectrum for producing methane, now a much narrower class to dispose of plastic.
We need more studies and this may prove to be the catalyst.


One friend who died a year ago had headed the bioengineering department at UW, but another friend will receive his Masters later this year.
Bioengineering for the next generation may be what chemistry was in my father's time, and what electronics is now.
Great fields for those with the capacity to envision new worlds.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 06:03:16 AM »
This process would occur, I assume, in a container where any methane could be captured.  And, I assume, the methane would be used to create the next generation of plastic containers.

Neven

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 09:58:54 AM »
Hopeful. But it doesn't take centuries for plastic to break down in the oceans, right? I once heard that if we would prevent any plastic from entering the oceans, they'd be clean again within 10-15 years.
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DrTskoul

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 01:31:51 PM »
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Perhaps the smallest term in the mass balance framework is the output of plastics from the marine environment. Removal mechanisms include transport onshore after ingestion by marine animals or during catastrophic events, intentional removal during research or cleanup efforts, and biodegradation. Although the timescale of biologically mediated mineralization of plastic materials in most environments is not known, it is probably at least decades or centuries and is almost certainly longer in the ocean (Andrady 2015). Thus, it is suspected that the marine environment is essentially a sink for plastic debris.

In Plastics in the Marine Environment
Annual Review of Marine Science


Vol. 9:205-229 (Volume publication date January 2017)
First published online as a Review in Advance on September 7, 2016
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060409

Bernard

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 01:37:59 PM »
Hopeful. But it doesn't take centuries for plastic to break down in the oceans, right? I once heard that if we would prevent any plastic from entering the oceans, they'd be clean again within 10-15 years.

Not sure at all about this. The infamous Friendly Floatees show that apparently fragile plastic objects can survive years in marine environment without great damage.
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_Floatees

We have no clear assessment of the speed of degradation in smaller chunks, down to nanoplastics found in food chains.

Plastic, somehow, is akin to wood. Wood can degrade soon in good conditions, say tropical forest, where mushrooms and other agents are pretty much efficient at breaking the carbon chains. In other conditions, e.g. underwater in lakes, or at the opposite very dry conditions, it can survive thousands of years. Even if opportunist bacteria or mushrooms find the way to breakdown plastic in the wild, this will be more or less efficient depending on many parameters. Like wood, plastic comes in a huge variety of composition and structure, and some will be more resistant than others. Devil is in the details.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 03:08:18 PM »
This process would occur, I assume, in a container where any methane could be captured.  And, I assume, the methane would be used to create the next generation of plastic containers.

Or rocket fuel!  ;) ;D 8)

Seriously, this reminds me (in a good way) of coal gasification research:  we have all this cheap but dirty fuel; let’s see what better uses we can find for it.
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SteveMDFP

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 03:14:14 PM »
This process would occur, I assume, in a container where any methane could be captured.  And, I assume, the methane would be used to create the next generation of plastic containers.

Or rocket fuel!  ;) ;D 8)

Seriously, this reminds me (in a good way) of coal gasification research:  we have all this cheap but dirty fuel; let’s see what better uses we can find for it.

Pack it all into abandoned coal mines, maybe?  Restore carbon deposits to their original location. 

Sebastian Jones

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 04:28:49 PM »
My first thought upon hearing of this latest development was to speculate on what the effect on our society would be if the enzyme were to be taken up by bacteria, spread around the planet and break down all forms of plastic....Gaia's revenge?

Bernard

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2018, 05:05:15 PM »
My first thought upon hearing of this latest development was to speculate on what the effect on our society would be if the enzyme were to be taken up by bacteria, spread around the planet and break down all forms of plastic....Gaia's revenge?

See my above answer and comparison with wood. It's not because wood can be broken down and consumed by all sorts of living species, bacteria, mushrooms, worms and insects (from termits to wasps), birds (woodpeckers) and even beavers :-) ... that you cannot use wood to make houses, furnitures etc. You have just to keep wood in dry conditions, or protect it with ad hoc care. And when wood is left in the environment, it goes back to short or medium-range carbon cycle.
We can assume in the best of cases such a future for plastic.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 06:02:59 PM »
My first thought upon hearing of this latest development was to speculate on what the effect on our society would be if the enzyme were to be taken up by bacteria, spread around the planet and break down all forms of plastic....Gaia's revenge?

Enzymes — as contrasted with bacteria — are rather specific in what molecules they act upon.  The article states this one works on PET (polyethylene terephthalate): Plastic recyle code #1.  It would be a pretty big leap from that to “all forms of plastic.”  ;)
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Shared Humanity

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2018, 09:52:08 PM »
Quote
Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles

Just wait till someone weaponizes it.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 11:34:04 PM »
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Just wait till someone weaponizes it.

Headline News

Attack on Corporate Headquarters

Terrorists invaded a board meeting at the XYZ Company today and sprayed all the participants' water bottles with a plastic eating substance. 

It is expected that those bottles will start to leak later in the week.

Mark Rubio's dribbling water all down his shirt front during his most recent speech is likely to have been caused by an undercover agent sabotaging his water bottle.  His statement to the effect that he doesn't have a lower lip control problem is likely upheld.

TerryM

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 03:27:59 AM »
My paper eating critters would eat through a paper cup while I was delivering a speil on how they would clear up your drains. Five minutes to cut a newspaper like it was done with a razor.
Voracious little beasties.
Terry

numerobis

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2018, 09:40:49 PM »
Hopeful. But it doesn't take centuries for plastic to break down in the oceans, right? I once heard that if we would prevent any plastic from entering the oceans, they'd be clean again within 10-15 years.

Big pieces tend to break down to small pieces and fibers. But they stay as plastic. This is converting plastic to something else.

It's pretty much inevitable that life would evolve to eat something that contains so much energy. But still, that's fast -- less than a century!

Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2018, 09:51:45 PM »
Goodwill in New York gathers its fanciest donations to sell in its upscale clothing store.

Quote
Located on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the new boutique store is designed to appeal to millennials with a curated assortment of fashion-conscious clothing, accessories, and homeware.

"We designed Curated as a distinct shopping experience to introduce shoppers concerned with the waste and pollution that fast fashion causes, to a stylish, affordable alternative," Katy Gaul-Stigge, the CEO of Goodwill NYNJ, said in a statement to the press this month.

Stylists hand-pick the clothing and accessories from donations made to stores around the New York metro area, a spokesperson told Business Insider.

The resale and thrift-store market has thrived in recent years. These stores align perfectly with millennials' shopping preferences for bargains and environmentally conscious practices. ...
http://www.businessinsider.com/goodwill-new-store-targets-millennials-photos-2018-7
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Tom_Mazanec

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2019, 08:54:32 PM »
3 ways companies can start embracing the circular economy
https://www.fastcompany.com/90407026/3-ways-companies-can-start-embracing-the-circular-economy
Quote
The report looked at what would happen if five key industries adopted a circular approach, meaning that instead of the current system—digging up materials, using a lot of energy to make something, and then a consumer eventually sending the end product to a landfill—materials could be used in a closed loop. If the steel, plastic, aluminum, cement, and food industries adopted this approach, the report calculated that it would reduce 9.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2050, as much as eliminating all of the current emissions from transportation.
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2019, 02:22:50 AM »
Makes sense, since plastics are sourced from fossil fuels....

This company is using recycled plastic milk bottles to repave roads in South Africa
Quote
Plastic milk bottles are being recycled to make roads in South Africa, with the hope of helping the country tackle its waste problem and improve the quality of its roads.
...
In August, Shisalanga Construction became the first company in South Africa to lay a section of road that's partly plastic, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province on the east coast. It has now repaved more than 400 meters of the road in Cliffdale, on the outskirts of Durban, using asphalt made with the equivalent of almost 40,000 recycled two-liter plastic milk bottles.

Every ton of asphalt used contains the equivalent of 118 to 128 two-liter plastic milk bottles.

Shisalanga uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a thick plastic typically used for milk bottles. A local recycling plant turns it into pellets, which are heated to 190 degrees Celsius until they dissolve and are mixed with additives. They replace six percent of the asphalt's bitumen binder, so every ton of asphalt contains roughly 118 to 128 bottles.

Shisalanga says fewer toxic emissions are produced than during traditional processes and says its compound is more durable and water resistant than conventional asphalt, withstanding temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius (158F) and as low as 22 below zero (-7.6F).

The cost is similar to existing methods, but Shisalanga believes there will be a financial saving as its roads are expected to last longer than the national average of 20 years.


"The results are spectacular," says general manager Deane Koekemoer. "The performance is phenomenal." ...
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/10/30/business/plastic-roads-in-south-africa-intl/index.html
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El Cid

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2019, 01:45:56 PM »
Yes, makes sense for sure. and what will happen to all the microplastic when these roads get heat, cold and rain? Yes, goes into the soil. very clever indeed.

All plastics should be banned

Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2019, 02:25:31 PM »
Yes, makes sense for sure. and what will happen to all the microplastic when these roads get heat, cold and rain? Yes, goes into the soil. very clever indeed.

All plastics should be banned

The plastic is completely dissolved, chemically changed and mixed into the asphalt.  it has been broken back down into simple organic compounds like those it was made from; it is not plastic any more.
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Tor Bejnar

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2019, 03:50:05 PM »
Hemp was made illegal in the US (in 1937) after anti-drug and pro-oil forces combined their efforts.  The oil people (DuPont) saw that Hemp oil would provide a platform for manufacturing competitors.  I recall reading somewhere that making plastics from hemp would be easier than from oil.
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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2019, 04:13:08 PM »
The last time I had a 50L garbage filled up to be collected was 5 August.

It's almost full. 3 more days for 3 months :).
(And it is part open and doesn't smell)
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SteveMDFP

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2019, 04:29:04 PM »
Yes, makes sense for sure. and what will happen to all the microplastic when these roads get heat, cold and rain? Yes, goes into the soil. very clever indeed.

All plastics should be banned

The plastic is completely dissolved, chemically changed and mixed into the asphalt.  it has been broken back down into simple organic compounds like those it was made from; it is not plastic any more.

I don't think so.  Hard to break polyethylene down into anything other than CO2 and water.  Simply grinding it and heating it to mix with asphalt won't do that.

Asphalt/bitumen is just another kind of fossil material.  The polyethylene starts as methane.  But the polyethylene would have been produced anyway.  Neither is particularly biodegradable, but both probably do break down with UV light exposure in weathering.  The complex mix of organic compounds in asphalt is probably more toxic to biological organisms--we know road workers exposed to hot asphalt have increased rates of lung cancer.

Is it better to sequester plastics carbon in roadways, or to bury in landfills?  Roadbuilding might be a better use.  I'm not certain.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2019, 04:44:00 PM »
Yes, makes sense for sure. and what will happen to all the microplastic when these roads get heat, cold and rain? Yes, goes into the soil. very clever indeed.

All plastics should be banned

The plastic is completely dissolved, chemically changed and mixed into the asphalt.  it has been broken back down into simple organic compounds like those it was made from; it is not plastic any more.

I don't think so.  Hard to break polyethylene down into anything other than CO2 and water.  Simply grinding it and heating it to mix with asphalt won't do that.

...

As it happens, I was recently speaking to a chemical engineer who worked with coal products.  She explained plastics made from ethanol and pthalic acid can be broken back down into those components.

The particular chemical reactions are what make the use of plastic milk cartons, HDPE, a necessary limitation.  Different plastics would need other solutions.
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nanning

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Re: Recycling to Reduce Oil Consumption
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2019, 06:43:35 PM »
Thank you SteveMDFP.

If a substance is completely outside living nature, killing life and remains for a very very long time 'active', it is insane to continue producing it.
So that goes for biocides (pesticides, herbicides etc.) as well. B I O C I D E. Hmmm..

Otherwise, why worry about nuclear waste? Same thing.
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   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome